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Tyler Thomas Brings Great Expectations Into 2nd Late Model Pro Race At New Smyra
Posted by: newsla on Jun 18, 2014 - 04:43 PM
Tyler Thomas Brings Great Expectations Into 2nd Late Model Pro Race At New Smyra

Tyler Thomas finished third in his first race in a stock car and on pavement in a Late Model Pro 50-lap feature at New Smyrna Speedway a month ago. The 18-year-old from Collinsville, Okla., will make his second start in the series at the famed half-mile track Saturday (June 21) with greater expectations.


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“I think it’s very possible to win,” Thomas said. “I learned so much throughout that first race with the track changing and managing the tires and I think it will pay off. I think we can run better. The car is capable of winning and I need to apply what I learned. I think we can get there.”

Thomas is driving for Florida short-track star Tim Russell’s driver development program.

“The team and the car are really good and I’m excited to work with them again and gain some new experience,” Thomas said.

Russell’s team undoubtedly has made a valuable contribution to Thomas’ transition from a Micro and Midget driver who has had tremendous success on dirt to a very promising debut in stock cars, but he’s also showed the ability to adapt from open-wheel cars weighing 1,000 pounds or less to the 2,7500-pound (including fluids and the driver) late models. The Midgets and Late Models have approximately the same horsepower, about 400.

“Going from Micros to Midgets to Sprint Cars and driving at all the different tracks, that experience has helped me adapt faster. You can definitely feel the weight difference. You’re using a lot more brake and letting the car roll more through the corner in the Late Model.”

Thomas tested for two days with the Russell team at New Smyrna prior to the debut race. It was time and money well spent.

“The test helped a lot,” Thomas said. “I was able to get a feel for the car and track. It was a huge help with the car. I started eighth (in a field of 18) in the race and made some passes. We had a late yellow with 10 (laps) to go and my car and the second place car were running hard to the checkered flag. While we were doing that, we were running the leader down.”

Thomas has stayed busy driving in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and the Honda USAC National Midgets since the May 17 Late Model event. He won the POWRi Midget feature at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., on June 8 and earned the three-race POWRi Illinois Speed Week title. It was the fourth career victory in POWRi Midgets for Thomas, whose initial win in 2011 at age 15 made him the youngest to take a feature in the history of the series.

Thomas is fourth in the tight POWRi championship and trails leader Zach Daum by 40 points, 1,950-1910.

Thomas drove in four Honda USAC Indiana Midget Week events with a best of 15th in the feature at Bloomington Speedway on May 13. Thomas also advanced to the features at Kokomo, finishing 19th, and Lawrenceburg, finishing 20th.

“We had a lot of problems in the USAC Midget Week,” Thomas explained. “We had electronic troubles at Bloomington. We got up to 10th at Lawrenceburg and a brake caliper broke off the rear. We struggled at Kokomo and started 19th, got up to 10th and hit an infield tire and got the front end out of whack.”

Thomas is running a seven-race schedule with the Russell team in his debut stock car campaign. After Saturday’s event, his next event at New Smyrna will be July 19.

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